To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

-Mary Oliver

Chinese Mushroom Soup
adapted from the Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen

1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
2 1/2 cups boiling water
6 scallions
1 inch piece of ginger root, peeled and grated
1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tablespoons tamari sauce
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock [or water] 1/4 cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed in 1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup thinly-sliced water chestnuts
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Rinse the dried mushrooms. Pour the boiling water over them, cover the bowl with a plate, and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain in a strainer lined with cheesecloth, making sure to SAVE ALL THE WATER! Squeeze all the excess moisture from the mushrooms; rinse and squeeze again. Remove the stems, and thinly slice the caps.
Remove the tops [green part] of the scallions and set aside. Chop the whites coarsely. Heat the peanut oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or stock pot, and add the white part of the scallions, ginger, and garlic and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant and slightly softened. Add the sliced, fresh mushrooms and stir-fry for two minutes. Add the prepared shiitake mushrooms, and saute two more minutes.
Add the mushroom soaking water, tamari, rice wine, stock, honey, cornstarch mixed with water, and water chestnuts. Cover, and let simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Finely mince the scallion greens. After the soup has simmered, stir them in, along with the red wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Serve.
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15 Responses to chinese mushroom soup

  1. missmarc says:

    how could I make this with fresh shiitake mushrooms instead of dried? this looks divine.

    • The dried shittakes are there just for flavor – they soak in water, which is then added to the soup. The water really adds A LOT of mushroom flavor. But! I think you could use fresh and then use stock in place of the mushroom water. Just add the fresh shittakes when adding the other sliced mushrooms to the pot, and the extra 2 1/2 cups stock to the 1 cup of stock or water that you would already be using. Hope that helps!

  2. Melody says:

    Oh yummy! I’ve been looking for more soups to add to my rotation this winter – this will be perfect. Also, love the wisdom from Mary Oliver. Love.

  3. Caitlin says:

    i love mushrooms in soup, and this one looks outstanding.

  4. Anonymous says:

    This looks beautiful. Is there something I could use other than cornstarch? My family has a corn allergy. Also, do you think I could use agave or maple syrup in place of the honey/sugar choice?

    • Flour would work in place of cornstarch, but if that doesn’t work, either, you could just omit it. The cornstarch helps thicken the soup a bit, but it would taste just as good a little thinner. I think you would be just fine without it. And, I think agave or maple syrup would work as well, since it’s only a teaspoon. Let me know if you make substitutions, I’d love to know how it turns out!

  5. I am cold in my bones this morning, and this soup looks like just what I need.

  6. Eileen says:

    This soup looks so hot and savory and delectable. I could almost see myself filling up a travel mug and running out the door with it…although it might be a little interesting to try to drinkt eh mushrooms! 🙂

  7. Elizabeth says:

    Perfect! The flu is lurking and I’ve been on an all-soup bender. Adding this to my repertoire right away.

  8. london bakes says:

    Everything about this is just dreamy. Thank you.

  9. beautiful soup. beautiful photos. beautiful poem.

  10. Ok you’re going to win me over every time when you quote a little Mary Oliver 🙂

  11. Rachel says:

    I love mushroom soups. Can’t wait to make this one! How many people does this recipe serve?

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